Ian over at Or So I Thought asked me this question:
A political question: How do you regard the late nicotine and booze addicted, but formerly brilliant journalist and war correspondent, Rene Levesque? I really don't know how Rene is regarded in the Quebec of aujourd hui.Personally, I admire him both as a jouralist and because he hated Trudeau's guts -- and for good reason.
Sheesh.. Politics. But at least this one is an intersting question. Because the whole dog and pony show of politics usually bores me to tears. Or sends me into paroxysms of hilarity. Rarely anything else.
René Lévesque. There's a subject...
First off, I've never been a separatist. I can understand why people would be, most of my friends are or have been including Mr. Jazz. That does not make them wrong, nor does it make them idiots (as a federalist colleague of mine once said). I happen to believe - even as a French Quebecer ('cause despite my angloness, I am first and foremost French) - that Quebec can make it as an integral part of Canada.
Which puts me squarely on the opposite side of Lévesque.
Actually though, contrary to many federalists, I've never considered him the bad guy . Nope, he was not the antichrist. I really liked him and always thought he was a brilliant man. Granted, sometimes he annoyed the hell out of me, but a lot of peole annoy me now and then.
René Lévesque was that oh so rare bird in politics. The exception that confirms the rule. He had integrity. He really believed in what he was trying to do, not as an opportunist who figures there's money to be made, there's power to be had, but as a man who really believed the only way for Quebec was through separation. (I can just hear some people I know saying "how did she live to that age and still be so damn naive") I sometimes think, looking back that he must have found the burden of Premiership and PQ party icon really hard to shoulder - he doesn't strike me as having been that kind of person. Obviously he was ambitious, you don't get into politics if you're not, but he seemed to truly be an idealist.
He had charisma galore, though not the Trudeaumania intellectual "it boy" charisma. He appealed to ordinary people because he was one of them. He appealed to those who actually worked hard to scrape by, people exactly like he was; he wasn't from a rich background. And this, much to the gall of the establishment, who, lets face it, sees the "unwashed masses" as, well, basically nothing important.
When he lost the first referendum I felt really bad for him, even though I had voted against.
And the PQ then started its time honoured tradition of taking out its leaders and quarreling in pubic. He must have been devastated when they turned against him and forced him out of the party he founded...
Which brings us to another point. René Lévesque was obviously crushed when he lost the first referendum, but he was never petty. He said well, it didn't work. Next time maybe. He didn't blame - in the infamous words of Jacques Parizeau after the second referendum - "money and the ethnic vote". He respected that people could think differently from him, he was never mean-sprited about the defeat - at least in public.
And I don't think he would ever have accepted presenting a projet proposing a Quebec citizenship while Quebec was still part of Canada. For me that's totally unacceptable - but that's another blog (besides, BB said it really well in this blog).
And there you have it. Hope I answered your question Ian.